Democrats and the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League condemned Thursday comments by a Connecticut state representative which referred to Gov. Ned Lamont as “Hitler” in a post on CTNewsJunkie’s Facebook page.
“King Lamont aka Hitler dictating what we must inject into our bodies to feed our family!” Rep. Anne Dauphinais, R-Danielson, wrote, apparently likening Lamont to Adolph Hitler, the German dictator behind the genocidal killing of millions of Jews and others in the 1940s.
The comment was a reaction to a story on Lamont’s requirement that state workers be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or agree to be tested for infection on a weekly basis.
Dauphinais did not respond to requests for comment on this story. But her Facebook message stirred objections Friday. Steve Ginsburg, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Connecticut region, called on Dauphinais to issue an apology.
“Comparing our Governor to Hitler is offensive and ignores the evil of the Holocaust. We call on Rep. Dauphanais to apologize and educate herself so she can understand the harm her words cause,” Ginsburg said. “Such reckless analogies from an elected official exploit the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and they cheapen and delegitimize the memory of victims.”
In a statement, House Speaker Matt Ritter called the comment anti-Semitic and compared it to a statement by Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, on the House floor last month, invoking George Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” in reference to masking requirements. Floyd was killed by suffocation last year by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
“This is part of a disturbing trend on the far right to abandon decency, decorum, facts, and history for offensive, racist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Ritter said. “Rep. Dauphinais’ casual Hitler comments – joined with the recent floor speech of Rep. Mastrofrancesco comparing wearing masks to George Floyd’s murder – must be called out by other Republican members of the General Assembly. Republicans need to look in the mirror: Is this your party?”
In an interview Friday, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said it was unfair to paint all Republicans with the comments of some individuals. He said the “selective outrage” from Democrats belied a serious conversation about the objection at the root of Dauphinais comment.
“It continues to ignore the larger issue of how this pandemic is being managed by government without public input and the lack of recognition of the frustration and fear people have in now needing to decide between their personal health choices and their livelihood,” Candelora said.
Max Reiss, Lamont’s chief spokesman who is Jewish, called Dauphinais’ remarks anti-Semitic and said there was no place for such rhetoric in government or public discourse.
“The representative’s comments are disgusting, repulsive, and disrespectful to the history and memory of victims of the Holocaust,” Reiss said.
Candelora compared the remarks to comments made by the governor last month in which Lamont likened employees seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine requirement to a “group of Mother Teresas,” a reference to the nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner who was named a saint by the Catholic Church.
“I’m getting really tired of this selective outrage from Democrats. I am a practicing Catholic and I found Governor Lamont’s comments equally offensive,” Candelora said. “So I’m not going to sit here and wordsmith people’s comments that they are owning on paper. It’s a free country. We have free speech.”
Dauphinais is not the first to draw a line between the governor’s orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus to the murder of millions under Hitler. In August, Lamont and education officials abruptly concluded a back-to-school forum in Cheshire after irate parents shouted down the speakers. As the governor was escorted to a waiting SUV by his security detail, someone shouted “Nazi Germany.”